Something you’re probably going to hear me talking about a lot is becoming more child-like in my view of the world. This past summer, I became a full-time nanny of one of the most delightful babies I have ever known. She was just a couple of months old at the time, and is now 10 months old, just on the verge of walking. The more time I spend with her, the more I realize how “old” I have become, not in years, but in my attitudes. The simple way that children approach the world is so easily crowded out by the stresses and sheer busy-ness of modern life. I will be a far better nanny, mom, and wife if I can remember how enjoyable it is to view the world through the eyes of a child.
Kids don’t care if there’s a little dust on the furniture, they just want you to play with them. Unfortunately, most of us have forgotten how to play just for the sake of playing. What we really need to do is simply hop, skip, dance, be silly. Most adults work all day (or work at being at home moms) and then in their rare free time, they generally tend to do one of two things: veg in front of the TV, or participate in competitive sports. Now, I’m not knocking sports, but if we’re talking about stress reduction, competition is not really conducive. I’m talking about playing just because it’s FUN! How often do we do this? When we don’t, why not? Is it because we’re too busy, we just don’t have the time? I would like to suggest that it’s a vital element that has been slowly crowded out of daily life, and we need to make an intentional effort to reestablish it.
I also don’t want to sound like I’m trying to vilify TV. I understand the desire to unwind in front of a favorite show after a long day. But I’d like to ask you this: could you take just a half hour of that time and spend it doing something fun? It doesn’t have to be extremely energetic, or “cardio”, but getting up off the couch is a great thing. If you can get out and enjoy nature, that’s even better! I’ll talk about some indoor/down time alternatives in a later post. But the trick is this: You can’t feel guilty about taking the time to do this; that’s just adding another source of stress. Consider it an investment in your physical, mental, and spiritual health. We can apply ourselves so much better to the things that we HAVE to do if we are occasionally recharging ourselves by doing something just because we enjoy doing it.
I have a challenge for you this week. Over the next several days, try to spend some time doing something fun. You don’t want it to be something where you feel pressure to be productive. Don’t worry about whether you’re burning calories, or accomplishing a specific goal. Remember, this should be stress reducing, not stress inducing.
If you have kids in your house, or young relatives that live close, this is even easier to implement, because they will be happy to teach you how to play again. Turn on the music and do a silly dance. Go outside (if weather permits) and play a game of tag, or even climb a tree, if you’re able. Go to a park to swing and go down the slide! Maybe even make a mud pie! Don’t watch the clock, just enjoy being in the moment. If you don’t have a kid of your own, or one nearby to borrow, a dog would be happy to play with you! Throw a ball, bone, or frisbee, chase the dog and let him chase you, just have fun!
If you don’t have access to kids or dogs, try to find another adult, preferably one who HASN’T forgotten how to play! Try a round of frisbee golf, a pick-up game, just don’t forget that a little bit of competition is fine, but too much ends up being more stressful, which defeats the whole purpose of this challenge!
My favorite ways to get moving and play like a child: dance party with the baby and Katie, chasing my new puppy, hiking in the woods while taking time to enjoy the beauty. What activities do you like to do, just for the sake of doing it? What can make you smile and get you relaxing and enjoying the simple life?